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Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


Portrait of a Plutocrat: Michael Reger

Since Northern Oil & Gas (NYSE: NOG) is a publicly traded company, it gives us an opportunity to take a closer look at one of the folks funding the the lies from Minnesota's Future in Maplewood and all over Minnesota, using other peoples' money. You may be surprised to learn that the attacks might even be funded with your money!

NOG CEO Michael Reger of Wayzata is a rich guy. His 3.1 million shares of NOG alone amount to more than $47 million, and his compensation from NOG in 2011, according to the April 2012 proxy statement, was almost $10.8 million. His employment contract guarantees “minimum four percent annual increases” to his salary – a pretty sweet deal next to what most American workers have seen lately, especially considering that NOG has lost nearly half its value under Reger's guidance this past year. Reger personally donates tens of thousands of dollars to Republican candidates like Chip Cravaack, Denny Rehberg and Newt Gingrich.

Not content to spend only his own money backing right-wingers, Reger also uses NOG's corporate treasury as a piggy bank for his pet political causes. The NOG "Code of Business Conduct and Ethics" gives their CEO the power to give "funds or assets of the company" as political contributions; he needs only to "immediately advise" the board of directors of his decisions to spend shareholder money in this manner, not even get their approval or consent, let alone the shareholders'.

Rich though he is, Reger owns less than 5% of NOG. Almost ¾ of the company's shares are owned by mutual funds and institutions, like The Vanguard Group and T. Rowe Price. If you're like millions of Americans, you own shares in funds like these, perhaps in an IRA or 401k. NOG is part of the Russell 2000 index (see p. 16 of the list of index membership), and thus a required component of many small-cap index mutual funds and ETFs.

This means you may own a piece of that corporate treasury that Mr. Reger uses as a political piggy bank, essentially at his personal whim. Welcome to the post-Citizens United world -- where rich CEOs can not only spend their own money to influence elections, but can spend your money to influence races for their personal benefit.

Money corrupts the soul. One can only hope that at some point during his life this man finds his moral compass. It's not about politics, it's about the truth inherent in the equality of all human beings.

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